A video may normally be worth 1.8 million words, but its value appreciates considerably if that video is of a presidential candidate talking about grabbing women’s crotches. The Billy Bush/Donald Trump tape is an example of the power of a well-timed post. Not only has the tape put a fresh and exciting veneer on the usually humdrum theme of powerful man sexually assaulting women, but now there are promises of more footage that’s even more damning. A teaser-tweet by The Apprentice producer Bill Pruit said, “As a producer on seasons 1 & 2 of #theapprentice I assure you: when it comes to the #trumptapes there are far worse.”
David Brock, the head of a pro-Clinton super PAC has even agreed to bankroll the next nail in Trump’s political coffin. According to Buzzfeed News, Brock promised, “if a $5 million ‘leak fee’ is what stands between truth and total Trump implosion, sign me up.” Brock’s reference to $5 million would apparently be to cover the inevitable legal and penalty fees that Mark Burnett (creator of The Apprentice) has promised to enforce if the tapes are leaked.
And that’s where we are, folks. We have become a nation that cares far more catching candidates in a Candid Camera moment than we do about analyzing them for their actual behavior. This weekend’s collapse of the Trump campaign illustrates the power of digital and social media with undeniable clarity. Before Trump and his disgusting “locker room banter,” Americans have been chronically disinterested in sexual assault. Sexual victimization of women is downplayed in the media, in court, and around water coolers. Sexual victimization of men isn’t even considered a thing, despite it being shockingly common. Sexual assault usually makes headlines only when it can be used as means to some other end (see, e.g., the faux panic over transgenders in bathrooms). But now that misogyny is wrapped up in an easily-shared .gif, everyone is an advocate for sexual safety.
It’s more than a little bizarre that it took this long for sexual assault to become an issue in the campaign. At least two women have been accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault . There have been articles, interviews, even lawsuits. The same can be said for Bill Clinton, albeit for much older allegations. But it wasn’t until America could watch Trump’s sexually-predatory statements on TV that it reacted to them.
The combination of video footage and Trump’s own voice was irresistible, as will the next tape we see. Word on the street is that the soon-to-be-leaked and “far worse” tape is one of using the N-word on the set of The Apprentice. No doubt, such footage would be an arrow to the heart of Trump’s base; his supporters must distance themselves from him, or risk revealing themselves as the “deplorables” they’ve been labeled. While there are plenty of women who happily excuse Trump’s “locker room banter” in misguided attempts to prove they’re not unattractive, humorless, man-haters, no parallel team of apologists exists for the N-word. Putting aside the validity of any assumption that use of a racial slur is “far worse” than actual sexual assaults, David Brock is likely correct that killing Trump’s candidacy requires just one more post. Members of the GOP will race to disavow a candidate who will have become nothing short of radioactive, and racism will become the number-one concern for every talking head and political hopeful. What consequences Mark Burnett will suffer if he chooses to enforce a $5 million penalty against a leaker of more Trump tapes remains to be seen — but in the end, that may be a small price to pay.
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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.